How healthy are your bones? Do you even think about your bones? After all, bones are hidden away, just doing their thing.
This week, 3 to 9 August 2015, it’s Healthy Bone Action Week, so we’re asking you to think about how strong your bones are.
Most people don’t know how many crucial functions your bones are responsible for. Bones help you move, protect your organs, produce blood cells, store minerals, and provide support for the rest of your body.
Not looking after your bones can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis and lead to a greater likelihood of falls and broken bones as you age. This can affect your quality of life and lead to a life in severe pain, or even ending up with a disability.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease which makes bones become brittle, leading to a higher risk or breaks. It literally means ‘bones with holes.’ It affects over 1 million Australians and occurs when bones lose minerals, such as calcium, more quickly than the body can replace them.
As bone density decreases, even minor bumps of falls can cause a fracture. Osteoporosis often has no symptoms until a fracture occurs, gaining it the name of the ‘silent disease.’ The most common sites for fractures are the hip, spine and wrist. Fractures can be the trigger for chronic pain and loss of independence, and the risk of future fractures increases with each new break – known as the ‘cascade effect.’
What can you do to improve bone health and prevent osteoporosis?
There are three key elements to improving bone health and preventing osteoporosis:
- Exercise: To improve bone health, weight-bearing exercise (where you support your own body weight, like walking, jogging and tennis) and resistance training using to build muscle are highly recommended. Resistance training can use body weight exercises, hand weights, gym equipment or resistance bands. For people with osteoporosis, balance training is also highly advisable to reduce the risk of falls.
- Calcium-rich diet: Calcium is essential for bone health and for healthy functioning of your heart, muscles, blood and nerves. If you are having inadequate amounts of dietary calcium, the body will withdraw the calcium from your bones to use in other parts of the body. Good dietary sources of calcium include dairy foods, tinned fish, dark green vegetables and nuts. It is recommended to eat 3 to 5 serves of calcium-rich foods daily.
- Sunlight: Sunlight is recommended as the best source of vitamin D. Over 30% of Australians are estimated to have some level of vitamin D deficiency, especially during winter. Vitamin D is an important element in developing strong and healthy bones. Depending on skin type and the time of year, 5 minutes to 3 hours of sun exposure is recommended.
If right now, you’re thinking, “Gee, I really have no idea what state my bones are in,” think about a DEXA scan at Body Measure’s Crows Nest clinic. A DEXA scan package can provide you with a detailed look at your bone health and give you the information you need to take steps to strengthen your bones and prevent osteoporosis. The DEXA scan uses painless, safe, non-invasive, low radiation to calculate your bone densitometry.
An initial scan will show the state of your bones, and a repeat scan after adopting preventative measures can give you the motivation you need to continue to focus on your bone health.
Give us a call today on 02 9460 8502 to book your scans at Sydney’s Body Measure and get a true picture of your bone health.